Afghan girls robotics team will compete in the US after all

From Engadget - July 13, 2017

The initial rejection and denial of an appeal was particularly heartbreaking for the team. They twice made a 500 mile trip from their Herat homes to the US embassy in Kabul to ace their interviews and secure the visas, despite danger and extreme heat. "We just wanted to show the power and skills of Afghan girls to Americans," 14-year-old Fatema Ghaderyan told the Associated Press.

Afghan is not included in Trump's travel ban, but it's tremendously difficult, bordering on impossible, for its citizens to obtain a visa. Just 32 were handed out in April of 2017, compared to 1,492 for neighbor Pakistan, according to Forbes. Nevertheless, teams from Syria, Sudan and Iran -- countries on the banned list -- were allowed to attend.

I truly believe our greatest power is the power to convene nations, to bring people together in the pursuit of a common goal and prove that our similarities greatly outweigh our differences.

President Trump reportedly pressed National Security Council officials for a solution, and they eventually agreed to allow the team in on "parole." That's a permit (not a visa) granted in exceptional circumstance where there's a "public benefit," allowing them stay in the country for ten days.


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